Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Reflections on Courage

To say that Courage and I have had our ups and downs together would be rather an understatement.

When he came to me, I was broken. I was learning hard life lessons and letting go of the horse that completely changed my life.
October 2013

Courage waited for me. He was quiet and easy and simple.

Then I got stronger, and he let loose.
March 2014
We worked through hard things and focused on Courage-specific issues. Things got better. We had good rides.

October 2014
March 2015
And so it's gone in cycles with him--good times and bad times. I've said before that I thought Courage came to me for a reason, and it's fascinating to look at how we've developed. This spring, Courage was a complete disaster and pushed all my buttons again. At the time, it was maddening. Infuriating. Why couldn't the stupid horse just be easy and let me go win ribbons and look successful? Why was EVERY GODDAMNED DAY harder than the last one? WHY couldn't he just. quit. pushing.  
May 2016
But he didn't. And instead of an emphasis on satin and show success this year, life circumstances forced me to grow and push myself as a human being.

The whole experience really refocused me as a horseman. I had to consider the mental/emotional side of training and cement the zen-master-status I've been working on. No matter what, I have to be the still center of the storm. I have to not only accept what he throws at me, but calmly and proactively move towards what I want at whatever speed he can handle on that day.

Sometimes that means walking. Stopping. Getting off. Going backwards in training until we find a point we can agree on and accepting "good enough" for the day instead of pushing for more. It means letting go of what people think of us or what I want for us and just accepting what happens in a day. It means meeting Courage where he's at and rewarding what he can give me, even if it looks little and pathetic to everyone else outside us.

When I walk through the front gate at the barn, I let go of everything that's wrong with life outside it and 100% focus on Courage and what he needs and who he needs me to be.

That's what I got out of this spring.

And now again, the tables have turned. Courage has stabilized, and while other things fall apart, I realized that my little bay horse has given me a mighty gift.

That incredible zen experience--no matter what, I walk through that front gate and all my focus is on Courage. I can't always push the other things down far enough to make riding a good idea, but he meets me where I'm at and accepts who I am each day, even if it looks pathetic to everyone else. He reminds me to focus on him and he gives me his best effort without judgement.

Some days his best effort is making me laugh hysterically at his antics on the lunge, other times it's marveling at how far he's come under saddle as he offers me his new personal best of something hard we're working on.

Courage isn't just the spunky bay horse in the barn. It's a state of mind. A willingness to keep on trying when things are hard and believe against all odds that no matter what, we'll come through on the other side. Maybe not unscathed, but definitely stronger and better for the experience.

In moments like these, I realize just how much I really need Courage.


  1. You don't look pathetic to anyone, and if they say you do I'll march over and slap them. Your willingness to go on this journey with Courage (puns for life) is inspiring and it is your journey, not anyone else's so own it and be proud of it.


  2. Excuse me, I have something in my eye..

  3. Your journey with Courage has given me so much hope for my idiot. <3 you guys

  4. Welcome back! Enjoy your ride, your journey with courage.

  5. I hope those "other things" you are dealing with get better. I'm glad Courage is giving you what you need right now.

  6. Life is better with dramatic horses. right?
    I'm glad that he's just what you need right now.

  7. Sounds like how most training goes, 1 step forward, 2 steps back. Def frustrating, but it happens to everyone

  8. Love that last picture of you two. :)

  9. Don't mind me, just sitting at my desk tearing up.

  10. You guys are good for each other. I'm happy that you have him and that he has you. :0)

  11. *hugs*
    So many hugs, you have suh a wonderful.way with words that I'm sure not only strike a chord with me & my animals but everyone who reads this blog.

  12. Such an amazing and inspirational post. I hope that other things in your life are getting better/get better soon.

  13. You are a very strong woman. Never let anyone tell you different. Hope whatever it is that is getting you down gets easier.

  14. Awwwww! You both bring out the best in each other and that is what this sport is all about! :)

  15. I'm not crying, you're crying!

    Welcome back! You were missed.

  16. I got so excited when I saw you had a new post, then you had to go and make me teary eyed at work! Welcome back.

  17. I am so glad that you have Courage! Both horse and non-horse courage. You rock the horseman thing, you really do.

  18. Don't mind me... I must have something in my eye. You two are an amazing pair... and don't let anyone convince you otherwise. I admire you and your partnership with Courage so much. <3

  19. I knew you'd be back.

    He's your Spider. This is the way it goes with these horses, and it's so worth it.

  20. Sometimes we all need a little Courage <3

  21. Good to see you back. As you have seen from experience, the easy ones don't teach us anything.

    It seems when all our personal crap settles down, that's about when the horses amp up their game and give us crap. We can handle it because everything else is easy. When our personal life goes haywire? It's like the horses know and back down their game. I'm not sure why that is but they know when we can take it and when we can't.

    Sometimes we also tend to pick out the bad more than appreciate the good. Here's to many more good rides.

  22. Sounds like courage is all you need (<3

  23. Thanks - good words when "I" need them.

    So glad to see you writing again.

    Lee Anna

  24. Your journey with Courage reminds me a little bit of mine with Miles -- the ups and downs are hard for me sometimes, but I know that it's teaching me to be a better equestrian and a better person. Thanks for reminding me to look at the big picture :)

  25. So happy that you are back!
    This post captured a lot of things that I've felt in the last week with Leo. Your progress with Courage gives me hope.


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